The Lucky Rooster Kitchen + Bar, Hilton Head, South Carolina

What a good restaurant! Sinclair and Eric picked this one out, and I need to let them make all of the choices from now on. They even managed to get a reservation without the help of the Marriott Vacation Club concierge.

The Lucky Rooster is not one of the many waterside restaurants in Hilton Head. It’s off a busy road in an anonymous shopping center. Going in, I noticed an outdoor area that looks like a great place to have a beer while you watch a golf tournament on a large screen, and I was thinking, “Casual place, more bar than kitchen. I should have worn my flip flops. Oh, I did.” Once you enter, however, the elegance picks up dramatically. It’s darkish with thoughtful lighting that sets a very relaxed mood, relaxed enough that I was not thinking, “I should have worn big boy shoes.”

We sat, some of us had an adult beverage, and ordered. We started with some deviled eggs with smoked fish and bits of tomato, bacon, and capers, dressed with a little paprika and parsley. If you think that deviled eggs like that sat around this crowd long enough to be photographed, you, my friend, are laboring under a misapprehension.

Nancy had a salad and a bowl of gumbo. Here’s the gumbo:

Isn’t that gumbo lovely, dark, and rich and swimming with seafood? Those are fresh shrimp and very good andouille. It tasted as lovely as it looks.

Sinclair had the steak wedge salad.

and a side order of grits.

When Sinclair tasted the grits, she said, Oh, my!” They really were delicious — I had a little taste, and I, being less articulate than Sinclair, said, “Mmmmm!” They were very creamy and cooked al dente. As you can see, the salad arrived deconstructed rather than in the usual wedge shape, which seems like a good idea in terms of distributing the dressing.

And Eric had the pork porterhouse with a sweet potato puree and a black bean hash. There are some collards in there, too.

Eric commented, “The whole plate is good!” Again, I had a little taste, and Eric was right. The black bean hash had been flash fried, adding a nice crunch to balance the puree, and it came with bits of bacon. The pork itself was beautifully cooked, with lots of flavor and not a hint of dryness.

I opted for the steak au poivre. After all, it came with duck fat fries with a caramelized onion aioli.

Have you ever seen a prettier steak? The meat was tender and full of flavor, and the peppercorn sauce was just right. So just right. I edged some of the fries into it, thereby making the onion aioli feel neglected, but the combination of pepper sauce and duck fat was heavenly.

Contrary to my initial expectation, the Lucky Rooster turned out to be much more kitchen than bar — not that the bar was a slouch. This is an excellent place for a meal. There’s always a buzz of talk and laughter, but just a nice buzz, an agreeable background while you easily carry on a good conversation with good friends as you enjoy some first rate food. The Lucky Rooster was a lucky find for us — way to go, Sinclair. It’s now on our Must Eat list for Hilton Head. You should put it on yours.


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